Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a turn based JRPG. Which is developed by Airship Syndicate and published by THQ Nordic.
The background to the game is that its inspired by an late 90’s comic book series: Battle Chasers. That was created by veteran comic book artist: Joe Madureira. Coincidently the Battle Chaser series is still un-finished and has a troubled publication history. Nightwar its self started life as a project on Kickstarter. The project saw a total of 14,175 backers pledge a whopping total of $856,354 to bring the idea to life. The only targets the Kickstarter campaign failed to hit where the final two, which would of included more animation and voice acting
The premise of the game is that a young girl named Gilly has been left a pair of mystic gauntlets after her father had mysteriously vanished. Teaming up with a wizard, a towering robot and a legendary swordsman on a grand adventure to find her missing father.
From the get go, Battle Chasers: Nightwar throws the player straight into a gorgeous animated intro scene that wouldn’t feel out of place from an 1980’s Saturday morning Cartoon. After this you are then thrown straight into the story. The story takes place inbetween issue #9 and the as of yet unpublished issue #10 of the comic book series, and sees the motley crew stranded in unformilliar territory with new enemies to contend with.
The story mostly takes place through in-game conversation between the players various party members and the enemies they interact with. Players are able to navigate the world via the vast, rich coloured overworld map which points the player to the next story mission or dungeon. Unfortunately you are unable to diviate from the set path. However there are shorcuts to be found andthe typical RPG route of taking the long way vs more loot is an option.
The games overworld is littered with monters and bandits to fight. At various points the party will stumble across old military outposts and shanty towns. These mainly serve as the locations to secondary quests as well as giving the player tid bits of in-game lore and impromptu boss battles.
The main gameplay point of Battle Chasers: Nightwar is it’s dungeons. These are presented as vast procedurlly generated maps that are filled with gorgeous looking scenery that it’s hard to tell on your third or fourth if you have seen every possible combination. These dungeons also serve as the main way to get loot. As per the rifts found in Diablo III, completed dungeons can be replayed at a higher difficulty setting to improve chances of higher gear drops.
Combat is your typical turn based style and Battle Chasers does not offer anything new to the style. Players characters are outfitted with your usual tropes such as basic attack and defend commands with the use of magic abilities and items. These attacks can be made more powerful once a character reaches level 5. Once at level 5, you are able to assign points to specific skills such as: raising a characters attack or effecting the % of crit damage applied. Each party member also comes with their own special attack which can be used once an onscreen meter has been filled. These attacks vary from each characer. For example, Calibretto who is a Incredible Hulk like Comabat Mech is the party’s defacto healer. So his special attack removes up to two negative debuffs from the party. On the other hand Swordsman, Garrison who fills your standard DPD role, will attack every enemy on screen and will apply a bleed debuff which will see the enemy loose health per turn. Characters are also able to utilise magic abilities which can be used via spending mana points or overcharge points. The difference between the two is that overcharge points are filled via attacking enemies and mana points are a points pool based on your characters magic rating. I found in my play through that mana remained in short supply and I mainly used the overcharge pool to cast abilities unless I was in a dire need to cast via mana points.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar does a good job building it’s world and characters to the player. Each character fits a typical RPG stereotype. Gully, the games main protagonist is a 9 year old girl who is struggling with the responsibility of bearing her father’s mystical gauntlets. Meanwhile Garrison is your typical square jawed swordsman who has a checkered past and does not work well with others. The characters are nothing new but due to being based on a graphic novel, they have enough backstory to feel unique to the Battle Chasers game.
Around the third dungeon the games difficulty kicks up a notch. Where as before your party could handle any situation, you are suddenly plunged into a big hole of death. In my playthrough, without any prior warning I met a bandit gunslinger who literally obliterated my party. Doing some quick forum research I found that around this point is where your dungeon replay grind comes into play. What Battle Chasers does not tell you is that its dungeons are not just a pretty story locations, they are in fact a main part of completing the story. Coupled with completing bounties acquired from the nearest town, the dungeon replays seems a chore to grind level and loot. This works for a few levels however it’s not a very efficient route coming into the later portions of the game.
Loot is another problem that the game stuggles with. Most of it has more negative drawbacks than good. I like to think that I am fairly decent at RPGs but even I struggled to compensate with the loot stats. Let’s take Garrison for example. One piece of gear would raise his attack level and haste, but on the other hand would lower his critical hit chance and would drastically lower his defence. Not good for someone who you want to be your go to guy for DPS. I found as well that many battle I relied heavily on applying the bleed debuff and constantly raising my characters defence to be the only viable option whilst this works it’s not a fun way to play an RPG.
Dispute these issues I found that Battle Chasers: Nightwar, an enjoyable game that is filled with gorgeous visuals, an upbeat and fitting soundtrack with a varied and fleshed out team of playable characters. Dispite never hearing of the comic book series, playing through the game has made me invest more into these characters and their motivations to follow the lead of a small child.